Talking lineups, future coaches and the season for Notre Dame men's basketball

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Editor’s Note: Notre Dame Insider and South Bend Tribune columnist Tom Noie holds the occasional Irish men’s basketball chat during the offseason. Following are highlights from Thursday’s session. For a complete transcript, visit

Q: Hey Tom! Can’t believe hoops season is upon us. On a scale of 1 to 10 — 1 being ‘no shot’ and 10 being ‘it’s gonna happen’ — what are the chances we’ll see Santa Clara transfer guard Trey Wertz play for the Irish this year?

Dave from Washington, D.C.

Noie: I’d say right now, let’s put it at a 5 for Trey Wertz being eligible to play for Notre Dame (yet still retaining two additional years after his transfer from Santa Clara). This is a Mike Brey-led charge through the NABC to the NCAA to allow all transfers immediate eligibility to help with roster management when teams get hit with COVID-19 issues. Brey believes the roster thing will be an issue if guys go down. It should be an all-hands-on-deck scenario. Wertz gives them extra insurance. Brey said this week he’s going to need a max of seven guys to play a given game. Oh, and Wertz can help in what already is a crowded perimeter. We’ll see, but I have a hard time seeing the NCAA rule on something like this in anything close to a timely manner.

Will the challenging early-season schedule benefit Notre Dame instead of mostly cream puffs to gain experience?

Tom from Gary, Ind.

Noie: That early-season schedule is something. I’ve seen some non-league slates that are challenging, but Mike Brey outdid himself. I don’t know that he did it more to gain experience for this team (the core has gotten a lot of it taking their lumps the last two years) as he did for this reason — nobody has any idea what this season will look like. Will the Irish play all 27 games? Will they play half of those? Brey’s thinking was that his players have gone through so much with the virus that he wanted to reward them by playing as many marquee games as possible. Winning record? Tournament resume? ALL that is out the window this season. If they can just play 27 games, that might mean more than locking down an NCAA tournament seed.

Is there a more appropriate choice than Martin Ingelsby to replace Brey when he retires?

Andrew, Philadelphia

Noie: Does Martin Ingelsby know that? At one time, maybe he was. The longer Mike Brey goes, the less I’m sure that Martin Ingelsby is the clear-cut successor. I’d look hard at Chris Quinn. Really hard. Concern there is he’s being tailored for a future NBA job than college. Next coach after Mike Brey? Firmly a TBD situation.

Notre Dame was picked to finish 12th in the ACC preseason rankings. Do you think that’s writing on the wall or does this team have something to them? I’d like to believe the latter.

Nick from South Bend

Noie: Nobody knows, and honestly, it’s typical ACC bias/BS. Just look at North Carolina, which finished LAST last season. What were they picked in preseason (fourth? With seven first-place votes). Um.....why? And people say I’m too much of a homer for this Notre Dame program? Man, take those Tar Heel blue glasses off, people. But I digress. I don’t think anyone knows what Notre Dame has, which is the reason for the No. 12 slot. They see John Mooney and his double doubles have left and no T.J. Gibbs or Rex Pflueger and think, yeah, no shot. Some preseason projections didn’t even mention Cormac Ryan. Man, do a little homework. The loss of Mooney is big, but the other two guys? Might be addition by subtraction in terms of talent abilities/ceilings.

Do you think LaPhonso Ellis would be considered to replace Mike Brey after Brey’s retirement?

Joey from Westernport, Md.

Noie: Easiest question of the day to date. Unequivocally and a thousand

Does this extra year of eligibility mean that Prentiss Hubb, Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski have three more years counting this year? Or am I not understanding it?

Nick from South Bend

Noie: Yep...everybody gets an extra year. Now, not everyone is going to want an extra year (seems I had this conversation with someone earlier this week). At some point, college kids, even college kids at Notre Dame, are ready to move on with their lives. And so is the program. That’s why there was no way the three guys who left the program had zero chance of returning this year. It’s just time for the next chapter to be written away from South Bend. That’s life.

We’ve had this discussion before. My choices for head coach Mike Brey’s replacement were Bobby Hurley and Steve Wojciechowski. I’ll add a third. Kevin Willard at Seton Hall. If you get him you get his dad, who knows more basketball than all of us put together on this chat. Now let’s focus on 2020-21 as Mike Brey ain’t leavin’ anytime soon.

Joe from the South Side

Noie: If it isn’t going to be Chris Quinn, and there’s a really good chance there won’t be since he had a chance to come here as an assistant but chose to stay in the NBA, I’d say the next Notre Dame coach is someone nobody sees coming. Like, wait, THAT guy? He might not even be a college coach right now. It’s all a moot point until Brey decides he’s done. The pandemic had the opposite affect on Brey as it did Muffet McGraw. Pandemic hit and McGraw felt she could get used to the retirement thing. Pandemic hit and it re-energized Brey’s drive to coach deeper into his 60s....maybe into his 70s.

Hi Tom, thanks for your coverage of the team. Two questions if you don’t mind. (1) I believe you started covering ND back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s — do you have a favorite season/team that sticks out in your mind? (2) Is this the year Prentiss Hubb breaks out and really takes over? Have seen flashes the past couple years and I really want to see this guy become the man.

Tim from Chicago

Noie: I’ve got to go with the 2014-15 team because of that three-week ride through March. It was equally exhausting and exhilarating. Beating Duke and Carolina on consecutive nights in Greensboro? No one would’ve predicted that. The NCAA run, where the SBT crew made two drives across Ohio on the Turnpike to Pittsburgh and Cleveland? Always remember the locker room after the Kentucky game. No tears. No emotion. Everyone just empty of everything. Close second season would be 2010-11 when Ben Hansbrough (still one of the best dudes to cover) just kind of carried them. The 2002-03 Sweet 16 is there because it also came from nowhere.

Prentiss Hubb absolutely has the keys to this car and he’s going to drive it. Where to? Remains to be seen. He’s still an acquired taste for some (I’ve been in the P-Hubb corner from the start) in that he shoots too much for some people’s liking. I’m OK with that. I want to see him become more of a orchestrator on the floor — finding this guy or that one or making a play for someone else. He’s the best guard in the league that nobody talks about. I’m looking at you, Tobacco Road.

How are you guys covering the games this year? What restrictions are in place?

Joe from the South Side

Noie: Still remains to be seen. Notre Dame hasn’t committed to what Purcell Pavilion will look like in terms of fan attendance, but the Irish hockey team opens the season Friday (tonight) and will not have anyone outside player families in the Compton Ice Arena stands. We (the media) have been told that we’ll be able to cover games as close to normal as possible. We’ll be wearing masks and be spaced out around the inner concourse of Purcell Pavilion. I’m planning on same situation on the road, which is one reason I traded the football trip to North Carolina on Black Friday so as to cover the season opener the next day (likely night) at Breslin Center.

What have you heard about freshman wing Tony Sanders Jr., so far and what do you think his role could look like this season?


Noie: Very little. He was on the list of working/running/growing questions I had for Mike Brey during our Monday Zoom media call, but we ran out of time and opportunity to ask. Typically, Sanders would be a lock as a fifth-year guy, especially because Brey recruited him having never seen him play or meet him in person. This year, though, think he’s in the minutes mix. He has to be.

With Robby Carmody having missed the majority of his first two years and with no one losing any eligibility this year, will he still have four years to play after this year? Can he surpass Scott Martin for years in college?

Dan from Chicago

Noie: He’s currently on the six-year clock, but probably not going to be a six-year guy.

Any word on when maybe the tip times will be announced or first couple games like Michigan St. and Tennessee? Also would have to think ND will heavily be on national TV this year, you think?

Justin from Fort Wayne

Noie: Tick, tick, tick....clock’s ticking, right? Think the Notre Dame plan for Michigan State was to go up and back with no overnight stay — pre-game meal on campus, bus up, step off the bus and go warm up and play, which leads me to think that’s a 7 p.m. tip. Same with the Tennessee game, which is a Friday night (Dec. 4). Believe that Tennessee is playing two nights earlier in Indianapolis against Gonzaga, so it’d be a tough sell (though great for us) if it was an afternoon tip. And the Kentucky game is trending toward either a noon or 2:30 tip at Rupp Arena. The others? Let’s get on it already!

Q If both were real options, would you take Chris Quinn or Monty Williams as next head coach.

Walter from Indianapolis

A Monty Williams, because he’s been a head coach....I don’t know if you can jump into this job and all it entails without knowing how to be a head coach. That said, I think Chris Quinn is a future star as a head coach.

What direction is Notre Dame headed this season behind junior point guard Prentiss Hubb?